School directors Diego Di Falco and Carolina Zokalski spent years dancing in Buenos Aires before they launched their professional dancing careers at the age of 20 by landing roles in the touring production of Forever Tango. When the show made its way to the U.S., the two became two of the youngest tango dancers in history to make it to Broadway. Like a puppy at show-and-tell, they earned enthusiastic acclaim, eventually picking up a Tony nomination for their choreography. These achievements were only the beginning of careers that graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, the Marquis Theatre, the Hollywood Bowl, and other esteemed venues.
Their reputations secured, Carolina and Diego turned to sharing the art of Argentinian dance with students, which they do today at Summit's Twin Maples mansion, a neoclassical home listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside, the hardwood dance floor is lit by chandeliers and accented by classical touches such as crown molding and bronze curtain rods, giving one the sense of dancing at a presidential ball or in a really, really fancy broom closet. There, the pair strives to make each step as authentic as possible by importing traditional music and guest artists directly from Argentina for the classes, workshops, and performances they helm.
Students arrive at Ballroom Dance of NJ seeking to learn the elegant art of social dancing, a tradition carried on by Russia natives Sergei and Olga Bezrodnov. The husband-and-wife team has taken home numerous Russian and U.S. championship titles, and the two are committed to sharing their passion for dance with the community.
Having experienced how ballroom dancing can promote both physical and mental well-being, the Bezrodnovs teach adults, children, and entire families how to gracefully navigate the dance floor. They coordinate events where couples can demonstrate their skills in styles such as the foxtrot, waltz, tango, cha-cha, and swing, preparing soon-to-be-wedded couples for their big day and singles to pass the time in malfunctioning elevators.
Helmed by a team of passionate climbing coaches, both of The Gravity Vault's locations surround climbers with more than 13,000 square feet of climbing space. Walls tower past 35 feet, mimicking such natural rock formations as overhangs, keyhole arches, and slabs, and bouldering areas challenge climbers with a latticework of problems that—unlike most of life's—can't simply be solved with dynamite and a pair of roller skates. Visitors can choose from up to 60 top-rope stations, trusting either the trained staff or a certified fellow climber to man the ropes while they scramble to the summit. When not dangling from a hold or saving lost kittens from a rappel ledge, members can bulk up in the cardiovascular-training area.
Master Byung Uk Kim owns World Champion’s K Tae Kwon Do, but helming the studio is hardly the most impressive stat on his martial-arts résumé. A seventh-dan black belt, Master Kim’s tae kwon do experience spans the globe—he was the head coach of the USA’s Junior Olympic Team, and a 10-time national champion in Korea, the sport’s country of origin.
At his two New Jersey studios, Master Kim currently teaches his specialty to students of all experience levels and belt hues, aided by a team of trainers. Beyond courses in their namesake discipline, the studios also host free cardio-kickboxing nights for parents every Tuesday, as well as tae kwon do–themed birthday parties.
The Ballpark's 15,000-square-foot indoor baseball facility has been the training ground for regional all-star youth league players and state championship teams since 1999. A team of experienced coaches, led by three-time Star-Ledger Coach of the Year Tony Picaro, teaches fundamentals such as bunting, fielding, and signing autographs while wearing an oversize novelty foam finger. Private and group lessons hone skills after school, and multiday clinics immerse rookies and pros alike in the sport's finer points. Outside class hours, players practice at six public batting cages, a timed home-to-first track, and a pitching mound monitored by radar and off-duty traffic cops. The Ballpark is also a great place to host a birthday party, which include pizza or hot dogs, popcorn, drinks, papers goods, and a free batting cage token.
The more than a dozen brick-and-mortar locations that make up Ultimate Champions Taekwondo Association share not only a style of combat, but a teaching philosophy as well. Tracing the lineage of their combative art back to Grandmaster Sang K. Oh, the instructors adhere to his teachings, exemplified by the quote, "The person who can defeat others with flashy techniques but is without love toward his fellow man will in the end defeat himself." Students use the physical empowerment of mastering jumps, kicks, and weapons to arm themselves with discipline, confidence, concentration, self-respect, and courtesy for others.
Outside of the classroom, the organization reaches out to the tri-state community with ample demonstrations of some of their most exciting techniques. Practitioners soar skyward in flying kicks or fill the air with the whirring blows of nunchakus, bos, and kamas. Fists slam through boards, balloons, and bricks to demonstrate the striking power of tae kwon do and the structural flaws in the Three Little Pigs' panic room.